While getting ready for our latest grocery shopping expedition, also known as ‘laying in supplies’, I was once again wondering if maybe I should become stricter in my ‘menu’ planning. Then the question turned from if I should to if I actually could. I still haven’t decided.
I love the menu boards that are on Pinterest, there are so many cute ones out there! In fact when I brought this subject up on Facebook a good friend of mine told me that she has been very successful using one of those boards for a weekly menu. I admire her! I have come to the conclusion though, that I am just not that organized yet. I have such great intentions and then life happens to me and the menu falls by the wayside. So I have started doing something else. I have to do something, I mean we shop for groceries once a month! Completely winging it is not an option.
What I do could not be called a menu since I don’t have a designated day for each meal. It is instead more a list of options. At the end of each month, Jason and I make a list of meals that we want to have during the next month. We ask the kids also and those are the nights we eat pancakes. I swear my kids would live on pancakes if I let them! I make a big list of these meals and next to each one I write down which cookbook it’s out of. This is how I incorporate new meals into our lives as well. I try for at least one new recipe a week. Have you ever got stuck in a rut where you find yourself eating the same thing every week or is that just me? Now, some meals are ok to do that with, but meatloaf every six days is just not cool! If I have a new recipe on the list though with a reference to the cookbook, then I find myself excited to try it.
Next I take this list and go through the recipes writing down any ingredients that I need. One thing that I pay attention to is how many ‘new’ ingredients a recipe calls for. If I want to try a recipe but it calls for more than two new ingredients, ‘new’ as in I don’t usually buy them, I hesitate to use that recipe. Why? If I have never bought those ingredients before in the ten years I have been cooking, then there is a big chance I won’t use them in anything else. Problem? We have a strict budget and every single dollar counts so I don’t want to spend money on something that I will only use once. If I really wanted to try it though, I first look into if I can substitute one of the ingredients or if I can make them from scratch. This is an option more than you would think! I have found recipes for almost anything.
When making our shopping list I always take note of our ‘basics’ too. These are the things that I know without a doubt we use every month. Noodles, cream of mushroom soup, all baking supplies, cereal, sausage, cheese, ect. . Basically these get placed in our cart every month unless for some odd reason we didn’t eat as much as we usually do. The good news about these basics is that they aren’t exactly going to go bad if they sit for a couple of months, and I like to have extra.
The best part about this list, is that you become familiar with what you really use and what you don’t. Knowing this is huge when you are in the store. We have found that there are isles in Wal-Mart or Costco that we don’t have to go down at all. That in and of itself is a money saver as we aren’t seeing that ‘thing’ that we never knew we needed! It also cuts down on the amount of time you are in the store. We have Costco down to a fine art since they don’t change their isles around ever. In and out of there in 45 minutes, and that’s with all the kids along! Then there is Wal-mart….you already know where I am going with this before I say anything. Do they change their isles every day or just every other day? All I know is every month things have changed and they have less and less. A. nnoying. !! Oh well, I guess it is what it is and now that we go with a plan in hand it’s not as bad as it used to be!
This month I am going to be working on some freezer meals and if they turn out I will share them with you! I have also had some friends show interest in our DIY recipes so I am going to start sharing them as well. There are probably some of you out there who will read them and go “well duh Bobbie, we’ve been doing it like that for forever!”, but to me they were a new concept and super exciting, and I’m hoping that others will think so too!
This is where you come in now. Is there anything that you are curious about as far as groceries, meals, DIY or anything along those lines? If I can share anything with you to make your shopping easier, help you save some money, or help you do more from scratch at home, than I want to make sure I cover that for you! Even if it seems silly to ask, please do anyway! I can’t promise an answer but I will sure try!
Love from my unorganized self,